Published: 02.02.12| Updated: 02.02.12
MEMPHIS, TN – This morning Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region and Planned Parenthood Middle and East Tennessee filed suit against the Tennessee Department of Health in federal district court to restore preventive care funding under the HIV Prevention Services Grant program and the Syphilis Elimination Grant program.
Planned Parenthood affiliates won funding for community education and health services work in these programs in August 2011 following a competitive bidding process. In December 2011, the grant contracts to both Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR) and Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee (PPMET) were dropped with no reason given after they were approved and without identifying a qualified provider to meet the need left by the elimination of Planned Parenthood from these prevention programs.
"We take our commitment to caring for the tens of thousands of Tennesseans who rely on us for a wide range of health care seriously. That is why we are asking the court to stop this politically motivated attack on the patients and community members who count on us," said Barry Chase, PPGMR’s CEO. "Planned Parenthood is exceptionally equipped to provide HIV Prevention health care and education to the community, and because of that, we have repeatedly won competitive bids for funding under this critical program."
As evidenced by 10 years of positive reviews and annual contract renewals, PPGMR and PPMET have done an excellent job implementing these programs.
For example, PPGMR was the first organization in Memphis to begin rapid testing for HIV, and its HIV "Master Trainers" train more new HIV testers every year than any other agency in the area. Following a June 2011 site visit, the Department of Health's HIV Prevention Testing Program Director commended PPGMR’s "dedication to HIV prevention and the community" and stated that he "look[ed] forward to working with Planned Parenthood in the future."
Similarly, PPMET’s Education and Training department provides STD prevention education through relationships with more than 100 organizations, and is a primary source of training for professionals who educate youth on STD prevention and other issues. In 2011, PPMET exceeded the number of people it proposed to serve with a fixed grant amount by more than 1,000 individuals.
In the suit against the state, Planned Parenthood argues they were kicked out of the HIV and syphilis elimination programs for providing comprehensive women’s health care—a violation of federal law and the constitutionalrights of Planned Parenthood. In 2011, 17,698 women, men and teens relied on Planned Parenthood's nonprofit health centers in communities throughout Tennessee for a wide range of quality, affordable health care services including annual exams, birth control counseling and care, reproductive cancer screenings, STD prevention and treatment and abortion care. Onein five American women has relied on Planned Parenthood at some point in her life. Planned Parenthood has been operating in Tennessee for more than 75 years.
"Our work is about empowering young people with the skills they need to make healthy decisions," said Elokin CaPece, Director of Education at PPGMR. "This loss of funding will put thousands of women, men, and at-risk teens who look to Planned Parenthood for life-saving health care and accurate health information."
Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region and Planned Parenthood Middle and East Tennessee are represented by attorneys from Arnold &Porter, Baker Donelson,and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR), founded in 1938, is an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. PPGMR’s mission is to ensure broad public access to reproductive and related health care through clinic services, education, advocacy and community partnerships in serving 42 counties in West Tennessee, North Mississippi and East Arkansas.